Category Archives: prayer

Set the World on Fire

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Wow. What wisdom.

It has been too long since I have written… blogged…. and what a perfect feast day to jump back into it.  Ah, one of my favorite saints, St. Catherine of Siena, though it is very un-catholic of me, I like to think of her as one of the most “bad-ass” female saints (right up there with St. Joan of Arc) … for she was very outspoken and persistent, something I strive to emulate. I need to be strong like her, strong in faith  … it seems recently I really need strong Catholic women (saints) I can look up to!

These past several months I had fallen into a mini dark night of the soul… this oppressiveness, bitterness, resentment, anger clutched onto me and would not let go… and I couldn’t seem to drag myself out of it.  So I persisted through it, offering up my sufferings and praying through it.  Of course trying to understand why we go through moments (months!) like these is sometimes next to impossible, we cannot see what it means now …. we just need to trust that He is doing something important. For God has a plan and He is working in us, making us better people, making us holier.  Though I, of course, did not feel holier during this time.  I felt like an epic failure. Was I supposed to learn something? (I didn’t). Was I supposed to be kinder and forgiving? (I wasn’t). Was a supposed to learn patience? (Good God I hope not!).  Or maybe I was just supposed to suffer yet endure. I have also been reading St Faustina’s Diary recently (another amazing saint!) and boy did she suffer a lot!  So I understand that at times we must suffer for God to work.  But suffering is just that… so painful, suffocating, difficult and draining…  how can I continue on when I feel so oppressed?

Why am I bringing this up on St Catherine’s feast day?  Well, here are two very powerful quotes that I feel help me get through.

St Cat fire

Bam! Be who you are meant to be.  That simple. God made you unique. There is no one else like you. There is a reason for that. So BE that person he created you to be, because no one else can do what you do.  No one else can set the world on fire like you!  Don’t let others drag you down and tell you to be something you feel you are not.  The only changing you should be doing is becoming more of a Christ like YOU (if that makes sense). God made me like this… at times outspoken  (obnoxious might be a better description. haha) … and rebellious and radical.  He did not mean for me to ever sit quietly and not speak out when I see something wrong. He made me like this!  So I find offense when I am admonished (and silenced) for speaking out, for asking questions or when I point out hypocrisy.  Hey!  Back off! Good wants me to be me.  I have struggled with trying to understand how I am supposed to act and who I am supposed to be … but I  now know that God wants me to be me, it’s that simple.  He wants me to set the world on fire in my unique way. He wants me to speak out.  Which brings me to this next infamous quote.

St cat cry out

YES! I will not be silent. She is right… especially now… the world is ROTTEN ROTTEN ROTTEN (Yes three rottens!!!) because of silence… especially recently…. everyone is so afraid to speak out about life, marriage and gender (among other things!) … and now we have lost the battle (read Matt Walsh’s book The Unholy Trinity, Blocking the Left’s Assault on Life, Marriage and Gender… he explains it all!) … It disturbs me that so many do not speak out! … but we should not give up! We need to continue to cry out!  So I will be ME and I will be brave… I will CRY OUT!

St cat start-being-brave-about-everything-drive-out-darkness-and-spread-light-don-look-at-your-st-catherine-of-siena-86-43-57

So thank you St Catherine for your wisdom! Know that your words give others like me the faith to be the strong Catholic women we are meant to be.

 

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Filed under Brave, Catholic, courageous, Faith, Holy, Jesus Christ, prayer, saints

Becoming Fully Awake

rest_in_the_lord_by_kevron2001-d6t93cp

I don’t want to say that 2016 started out bad … but it has been a stressful few months. I had deemed January “hell month’’ due to the high volume of meetings and other various work related craziness I had to do. My head was spinning and I thought it would slow down once February hit, but no… a bit of that hell seeped into February as well. Sigh. I am just grateful that it is finally February break and I am able to slow down, sit back, take a deep breath and relax. My goal this week:  to do a whole bunch of wonderful nothing.

I realized that once again I had prayed and God answered… in a way that I did not like.  As I have said before, careful what you pray for, because He may literally take you at your word and give you exactly what you asked for. Knowing this I, of course, never pray for patience, and I no longer pray the litany of humility, ugh. But there I was everyday innocently praying to be the best case coordinator I could be  … and what happens? I get in trouble at work for not doing my job properly. Sure I want to be better at my job, but I do not like to be reprimanded, no one does. But having this happen made me realize~ to be better I had to pay more attention to every detail and to follow all procedures. Though part of the problem had to do with having too much on my plate, but that is another rant for another time.

I need to remember that God honors our prayers and wants us to be the best we can be. ‘For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, as a father chastises the son he favors.’   Proverbs 3:12 .  ‘When you are scorned by others and lashed by God, do not despair. God lashes us in this life to shield us from the eternal lash in the next.’ St. Peter Damian.  I have to continually remind myself, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28. Even though it felt like a punch in the stomach, I know good will come of all this, whether I can see it now or not. I just have to trust. I have to have faith. I have to embrace it all knowing God is working in me. I have to remember to always get back up and keep moving forward. I need to rise each day anew.

Today is the Second Sunday in Lent, The Transfiguration, one of my favorite gospel readings. There was one line that struck me this morning. ‘Becoming fully awake, they saw His glory,’ Luke 9:32. Becoming fully awake. It made me question: Am I fully awake? Or am I just going through the motions? Am I taking my time, slowing down, sitting with Him, listening in the silence? Am I becoming fully awake in my faith? In my job? No. No I am not. That needs to change.

It is Lent and it is February vacation. It is a good time to assess my life. Time to get serious.

For Lent this year I did not give up coffee (ugh, that was hell for everyone involved haha) nor did I give up Facebook (though I still am addicted). What I am doing this year is writing Haikus. Yes you read that right, writing Haikus. That little Japanese poem-y thingy… counting on my fingers syllables: five, seven, five… Easy yet so hard. I write one every morning and sometimes I write two if the mood hits me. Today after seeing the movie ‘Risen’ (which I highly recommend) I felt very peaceful. Moved. And while on the elliptical at Planet Fitness an idea for a Haiku came to me, so I wrote it down on the memo app on my smart phone while elliticalling (if that is a word. Well, it is now).

Can’t do it alone

Nail me to yourself, my Lord

With Him I will rise.

Attached to Jesus, carrying my cross, I will continue on, though at times I hate my cross, I know He is with me. I know that in my weakness I am strong with Him. So I will keep praying that prayer, and all my prayers, paying attention now to what I am asking. But still, I will let Him answer as he sees fit. For I know he has great plans for me, even when it feels like the world is falling apart. I know that He is with me. So I will become fully awake (Risen!) and ecstatically see His glory fill my life.

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Filed under Catholic, Christian, Faith, God, Jesus Christ, Lent, prayer, The Cross

Adore Him

The Eucharist bathes

On Sunday night we taught a Life Night (Life Teen) on The Ten Commandments.  The end of the night we experienced Eucharistic Adoration… for the first three Ten Commandments are all about loving God and what better way to end “the Lord’s Day” than with adoration.

eucharist

Yes it is the most amazing thing to do… spend time with Jesus. Let the Son shine down on you.

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It is almost as wonderful as receiving Holy Communion… My Lord and My…

God

…to just sit quietly in front of the Monstrance…

This past spring our Fraternity went on retreat and during Eucharistic Adoration I began to write… and this is one of the poems I wrote:

Adoration

     hits me warm

           at the throat

head lifted

I let Him settle on me

         in me

soft

He shines

       enlightens

quiets me

down down down

                   into His arms

I rest

       glowing

I can do no harm

                when He wraps me

enfolds me

           cherishes me

Peace grows solid

                            palpable

      a silent song vibrating in our chests

Holy Holy Holy

                         It is enough

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Filed under Adoration, Catholic, Eucharist, Jesus Christ, Life Teen, prayer

Joan Up!

Joan up meme
Yeah… I came up with a new saying… “Joan up!” It came to me yesterday as we, my fellow Secular Franciscan and I, were headed to St. Anthony’s Monastery in Kennebunk, Maine for Franciscan Day. She had gotten us new T shirts to wear… she is always buying us cool Catholic shirts to wear to events. This time she got us St. Joan of Arc T shirts.

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On the front is St Joan on her horse with her banner and on the back it says: “She who is brave is free.” Coolest shirt EVAH… They are made by the company Rangerup.com (cool site, check it out)… so Ranger up… Joan up… that’s where the idea came from~ the idea that we need to do as she did… no matter what the odds and what is before you, no matter the suffering, know that God is with you, He will give you strength… so be brave, charge right in there and DO IT!

Unfortunately tomorrow is the beginning of a new school year as a special education teacher, (unfortunate because it is still summer! I am not ready to go back!) … I think that I need to start off the year with a prayer and a plan…My goal: to BE more like St. Joan of Arc this year. To be brave and courageous… but to also… BE more Catholic and Secular Franciscan-ish…

On the way home yesterday we were talking about how sometimes the old version of us would come out when people made us angry. My friend was in the Army, so for her the inner soldier would come charging out when she was angry. I used to be a Boston Meter Maid back in the day. Let me tell you, I was one crazy…. I had a foul mouth and a fierce pit bull attitude to go with it. If someone freaked out on me for giving them a ticket I would give it right back to them. I would not back down and I let them have it. I would like to say that she is pretty much gone now, that crazy meter maid… years of Catholicity has smothered her …. but… well, it’s not true…she is still there… angry ole me, simmering, waiting for the opportunity to explode. And yeah… once in a while, when some sandpaper person pisses me off, she rears her ugly head. (It’s not pretty). I know I need to control her. I need to be more Christian, more loving, more peaceful, more kind. Because although St. Joan was a warrior, she was a Catholic first.

stJoan quote
So there is that balance … and I want to have that balance in my life. I want to be that brave woman who stands her ground, is fearless and goes for what she wants … But also I want to be the woman who is obedient to her faith and does God’s will, not her own. The woman who loves, who is kind and who fiercely, passionately, courageously does not let others trample all over her.

I feel in the past I have been the extremes. I am either too kind and I let people walk all over me, or I lose it and freak out on them. I need to find the balance between the two. I need to find my inner St. Joan. Control. I need to control myself.

So, as with all things… Probably best to start off with prayer.

Heavenly Father, please, help me to be the woman I am meant to be. Help me be courageous and go after my dreams and pursue what you have in store for me. Help me to step out in faith, knowing you are with me, assisting me along the way. Help me to take a stand when I feel others are stepping all over me and taking advantage of me. Help me to be firm, yet kind when I do not feel I am being heard or given due respect I deserve. Help me to control my temper and not say things I will regret. And most of all help me to forgive others when they wrong me. Help me Lord, to “Joan Up!” and be the brave Church Militant woman I was made to be. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Amen.

“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” St Joan of Arc.

st joan dares

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Filed under Brave, Catholic, Christian, courageous, Faith, prayer, Secular Franciscan, special education, St Joan of Arc

Hater

truth orwell

Yip. Sneered at for speaking the truth. Labeled a “hater” and “intolerant” and a “bigot” for expressing my Catholic opinion on the supreme court decision on same sex marriage or on the Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn issue. Doesn’t matter that I explain what the church teaches on marriage and those issues. Doesn’t matter that I post articles and videos on Facebook that clearly and simply explains my position. Doesn’t matter that I explain how I love the person first and value the dignity of the human person, and that we are to hate the sin not the sinner. Doesn’t matter. I am told I should not judge others …and they think they can just shut me up with that statement and the discussion is over.

judge meme

yeah. They throw bible quotes at me but they do not understand the Christian faith at all and what it teaches. They are either cafeteria Catholics/Christians or they do not want to even bring in religion to the discussion at all.  I even post articles/videos on the social or scientific aspect of the issue… but still… no…  I am still a “hater” … sigh.

I am tired of it. I am tired of being misunderstood. I am tired of explaining myself over and over… it’s like banging my head against the wall. They don’t hear me. and they assume I am just a nasty, ignorant, unenlightened bigot.

Case in point:

When the Bruce Jenner came out as Caitlyn and everyone was oooing and ahing over his picture on the cover of a mag I wound up having a very interesting discussion with a very upset young woman about this. She was angry at people for being intolerant. I told her she cannot make/force people to agree with her. She could not force people to accept something that went against their faith.  I went on to explain how some people’s religious beliefs were very important to them and that they would defend those beliefs.  I then went on to explain my beliefs, my faith and how I try to live the gospel in my life. I explained how I love a person no matter what. I respect their human worth and dignity. I told her I had people in my life who I would do anything for, I would even give my life for them … but I did not agree with their choices or their beliefs. I loved them but I did not have to accept and agree with how they lived.  Though I kindly and simply explained my beliefs to her she still had that crazed “you’re a hater” look on her face. She even asked me to do her a favor: “When you talk about her (Bruce/Caitlyn) could you please call her ‘she?'” I again reminded her that she could not force people to do/say things that go against their beliefs… she did not like that. What bothered me the most about the whole honest, revealing conversation was: she now carries a grudge against me. I am no longer a nice person in her eyes. It didn’t matter that I explained about love and my faith, to her because I did not accept her view point I was a “hater” … end of story.

I think that hurts the most. Being thought of a hater. Being misunderstood. Yes Jesus said we would be hated and persecuted for our beliefs. I know. But it doesn’t make it any easier.  Being catholic is so hard… but yes it is worth it.

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The one good thing those who believe we are haters do not see….  we have been praying. A lot. About the whole serious situation. We may be called names, we may be misunderstood… but there is good coming out of this… a whole lot of prayer is going up…

amen.

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Filed under Catholic, Christian, Facebook, Faith, hater, misunderstood, prayer, same sex marriage, supreme court decision

Sandpaper People (or Hugging the Leper)

sandpaper people meme
We all have them. Sandpaper people, those annoying people in our lives who just make living our daily lives, at times, unbearable. They rub us the wrong way. They get under our skin. They always say something that makes our blood boil. … they make comments or jokes that make us feel horrible about ourselves … those daily jabs or needlings… little things that after a while build up until we just want to scream. Yeah. Those people.

screaming-woman
My friend calls them sandpaper people… because they are there to make us better Christians. Polish us until we shine … erm… hm. Yeah…. Don’t know about that… ugh.
That’s that whole Franciscan ‘Perfect Joy’ thing… being joyful even in the worst situation. Loving the unlovable… hugging that leper as St Francis did. It all sounds good when we talk about it… but DOING it… LIVING the gospel out in that annoying world is another thing. Again I feel like a complete failure. I was not the good Christian I was supposed to be. I did not handle my sandpaper person well.
Hey I tried. All year long. TRIED! I started off okay. I played the good Christian. I was nice. I let the daily rude, cutting jabs go. ugh… let it go… Don’t….Don’t sing it…

let it go Batman meme
I even confronted the situation in a kind polite way. Nope… didn’t help. So, of course, I prayed, oh yes I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed… I prayed for peace for us and everyone around us. I prayed for the situation. I prayed for the person. I prayed that the person would change. I prayed. For months. And nothing changed. So I grew impatient and discouraged. I felt I had had enough. I had had it up to here. It was too much. It was like I was drowning in negativity. I knew I was going to snap at any moment. Praying, kindness, discussion…. nothing worked and I felt trapped. And the whole situation made me angry and hateful and ugly… and it caused me to swear and rant about it… yes… of course I went to confession! I went to reconciliation a lot.
I felt I had lost my Catholic self… I was worn down by this person and it did not polish me… it made me tired, beaten …. I was in despair. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted.
Yesterday, at a Franciscan fraternity retreat our priest brought up this very topic (I laughed out loud!) …. Francis hugging the leper. Our Franciscan life is a life of daily conversion. Of doing penance. Don’t run from circumstances… offer our sufferings up… unify our sufferings with the suffering of Christ. Change SELF… change on the inside.
I believe I had started off doing this, being the Franciscan I was meant to be back when it all started… but when it got too much, when I prayed continuously and nothing happened… I lost faith. I suppose I wanted to SEE the change immediately.
A couple days ago that still small voice inside said to my heart, “Maybe you just needed to pray for that person. That’s all. Maybe you are the only person praying for that person. Maybe they really need your prayers. You are there to pray for them.” That stopped me dead. Oh.
So, though I do not want to be in the way of that person’s wrath anymore… I will continue on until it is over. I will pray. I will be kind and merciful. I will offer it up. I will try to change on the inside. I will realize that God is working… and I may never see the change that is happening or will happen …. But I will endure. I will find peace. I will ask the Holy Spirit: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” I will no longer be led by my anger. I will let the sandpaper person polish me.
I will hug the leper.

francis-and-leper
Questions to ask: Who are the lepers God places in your life? How is the Holy Spirit leading you? How can you do mercy?

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Filed under Catholic, Faith, prayer, Secular Franciscan, St Francis

Prayer Before an IEP Meeting

Angel_Army

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it years ago when I started as a special education teacher.  I am always praying before meetings, usually rosaries and Divine Mercy Chaplets on top of all my other morning prayers… and there are even times when I ask all my friends/prayer warriors to pray for me if I think a meeting may be a bit …hm… difficult.  My husband says he prays a whole army of angels and saints surround me at my meeting.

angel-army

Yeah! Makes me think of that Chris Tomlin song about the God of angel armies… at my side!  Makes me feel that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”… I feel peaceful and courageous.

So recently a co-worker, friend and fellow Christian and I talked about writing a specific prayer for IEP meetings…  so this is what I came up with:

Prayer Before an IEP Meeting
Heavenly Father
I thank you, Lord, for this glorious day
I thank you for my job as a special education teacher. I know this is the plan you have for me, help me be the best case coordinator I can be.
I thank you Lord for all my students. You placed them in my life for a reason. Help me to help them be successful.
I ask you to pour down your blessing, mercy and grace on ___________________’s IEP meeting today
I pray for peace, love, joy, courage, strength, protection, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and compassion during the meeting. Surround me with your heavenly angels, Lord
I pray that all goes well and my student gets the services and support he/she needs to be successful at (Name of school).
I thank you again, Lord, for this wonderful journey.
Help me be obedient to your Word, to serve you and live the gospel in my life.
In Jesus’ Name I pray
Amen

This makes me think… I should write more prayers… for all I do…

ps 37

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Filed under angels, Catholic, Christian, Faith, IEP meeeting, prayer, saints, special education